As a new, chemical engineering hire in 1963, I was assigned to be a “contact man” for the Heating Oil Hydrofing units. (Today that would be “contact engineer.”)

They were created by modifying the old thermal cracking coils so that low sulfur heating oil could be produced. One day I was looking in one of the furnaces where the oil was being heated when I saw a tube that had sagged, ruptured and was leaking flaming oil!

I quickly ran inside the control room and excitedly told one of the (day shift) operators “a tube has ruptured in one of the furnaces!” He showed no surprise or alarm, but said “Oh, has that old *^%$@&! dropped another tube?” (Of course he knew that the fire was contained inside a brick furnace that was already burning natural gas to heat the oil going through.)

It wasn’t long after that the Heating Oil Hydrofiners were rebuilt.

Glenn Whitcomb

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